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PFT's Week Two picks

[Editor’s note:  Each week, Rosenthal and I will go head to head,
picking the winner of each game.  The guy who does worse each week gets
to be the one to copy and paste together the text the next week.  Last week, we tied.  The NBC Competition Committee decided that I should have to copy and paste it all together again.  And so I’ll take the high road and accept the ruling.  In three days, after everyone applauds me for taking the high road, I’ll bitch about it on the radio.]

[UPDATE:  As it turns out, we didn’t tie.  Rosenthal won.  And I should have kept my damn mouth shut when I realized that he’d counted his victories incorrectly.]

Bills at Packers

Florio’s take:  In Week Two of the 2009 season, the Packers hosted an AFC team, and the AFC team stole a win.  In Win Two of the 2010 season, another AFC team comes to town.  But there’s a big difference between last year’s Bengals and this year’s Bills.  Even with Packers running back Ryan Grant done for the year, Green Bay has too much talent — and the Bills don’t have nearly enough.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 42, Bills 19.

Rosenthal’s take: This reminds me of the blowout specials Florio used to get to pick last year when we split the workload.  You could try to make a case for the Bills, but you’d be trying too hard.  Buffalo doesn’t have the receiver depth to test Green Bay’s secondary.  The Bills’ three-headed running game was oddly underused last week.  Their screens were predictable.  Holes closed on C.J. Spiller a lot faster than they did at Clemson or in the preseason.  Don’t expect daylight this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 27, Bills 10.

Dolphins at Vikings

Florio’s take:  The Vikings’ offense and the Dolphins’ defense cancel each other out.  So this one will come down to the ability of the Minnesota defense to bottle up the Miami offense.  Given that the Bills were able to keep the attack largely in check last week, the Vikings should have no problems shutting them down.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Dolphins 12.

Rosenthal’s take: Miami’s defense was impressive in Buffalo.  Mike Nolan did a lot of fun things with Karlos Dansby and Cameron Wake; they can get pressure on Brett Favre. Even short a few players, this is an improved linebacker group.  Favre also may not be ready to take advantage of a Dolphins secondary that features Benny Sappy a little too prominently.  There’s an old axiom that you shouldn’t pick a team to cover the spread unless you think they can win. 5.5 points feels like too much.  So let’s just go all the way and take the Dolphins in an upset special.  (I changed this pick at the last minute, which is the kiss of death.)  [Editor’s note:  Hey, Rosey, if you’re gonna pick the upset, just pick the upset and be done with it.]

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 23, Vikings 21.

Chiefs at Browns

Florio’s take:  With former Patriot Scott Pioli running the Chiefs and former Patriot turncoat Eric Mangini coaching the Browns, this one carries a strong undercurrent of hostility.  Then there’s the fact that Browns running back Jerome Harrison shredded the K.C. defense for 286 yards last December.  Look for the new-look Chiefs to bring their new attitude to Ohio, and to send the Browns to a loss in the second of two games that most expected Cleveland to win.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 20, Browns 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Remember all the positive energy in Kansas City on Monday night?  Imagine that, but the complete opposite happening in Cleveland if the Browns fall behind Sunday.  Jake Delhomme’s injury doesn’t hurt the Browns, though.  Seneca Wallace is different, and could force the Browns coaches to get creative with a roster that begs for creativity to make up for a lack of talent.  Eric Mangini can’t afford to lose the Belichick B-team Bowl after last week’s collapse in Tampa.  Romeo Crennel knows just how to lose in Cleveland.

Rosenthal’s pick: Browns 17, Chiefs 14.

Bears at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  The Bears lucked into a win at home and the Cowboys squandered a victory of their own on the road.  This week, the Cowboys head back to Dallas, 25 years after the Bears authored a 44-0 beatdown of the ‘Boys.  The Bears haven’t won in Big D since the year after that game — and their streak of futility will continue.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Bears 10.

Rosenthal’s take: No clue what to make of the Bears after last week.   Jay Cutler moved the ball very well, Matt Forte is revived, and the defense stuffed Detroit all day.  Yet they still needed a lucky call to save them from an opening loss at home.  The Cowboys are easier to read.  Their offensive line has problems and they know it.  The defense is great.  Will the return of two injured, older starting lineman be enough to turn things around?  It’s enough this week.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cowboys 24, Bears 20.

Cardinals at Falcons

Florio’s take:  The Cards barely beat a still-bad Rams team last week, and the Falcons gave fits to the Steelers on their home field.  Atlanta realizes that the window will close quickly if they can’t keep pace with the Saints.  Besides, Falcons are far more menacing birds.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Cardinals 20.

Rosenthal’s take: Arizona fans complaining about style points last week need to get a grip.  Kurt Warner has left the building.  This is a different Cardinals team, and they are going to have to win creatively while Derek Anderson figures things out. The guy led two impressive fourth-quarter drives last week and that will do for now.  Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has struggled to move the ball since the preseason.  I think Atlanta’s improved defense carries the day here.  Both these teams deserve to be 1-1. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Falcons 19, Cardinals 14. 

Buccaneers at Panthers

Florio’s take:  Since 2003, the Panthers have handled the Bucs on 11 of 14 occasions.  Though Tampa pulled off a minor surprise on Sunday against the Browns, the Panthers can be expected to take care of business on their own turf.  If they can’t, Carolina could be 0-5 at the bye.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 24, Buccaneers 14.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bucs have a golden opportunity to go 2-0, even if Panthers starting quarterback Matt Moore plays as expected despite a concussion last week.  Raheem Morris has the Bucs defense looking improved, like they did at the end of last year.  These two similar teams fly well below the NFL radar and got against current league norms.  They want to win with running, defense, and not screwing things up too badly passing the ball.  John Fox has more practice.  And better running backs. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Panthers 20, Bucs 13.

Eagles at Lions

Florio’s take:  With Mike Vick making his first start since 2006, the question becomes whether he can play like he did against the Packers, who weren’t prepared to face him, when facing a Lions team that knows Vick will be the guy.  Lions coach Jim Schwartz never has had to defend Vick; when Schwartz served as defensive coordinator for the Titans, Schwartz’s team was the last one to play the Falcons before Vick returned from a broken leg.  Look for Schwartz to try to keep Vick in the pocket in the hopes that he’ll be forced to throw — and that he’ll force a few mistakes.  And then Kevin Kolb will get “healthy” quickly.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Eagles 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The battle of the tortured fan bases.  The rest of the world learned about what it meant to be a Lions fan this week.  Week One, full of hope, they lost their young franchise quarterback and a game in the most painful way possible.  The Lions have a vertical passing attack with the weakest-armed quarterback in the league in Shaun Hill.  Eagles fans have it pretty good, but they like drama.  They talked up Kevin Kolb all offseason, then gave up on him after 30 minutes.  It’s hard to blame them after the way Michael Vick played last week.  Vick will put it to the Lions just to make this whole situation more ridiculous.

Rosenthal’s pick: Eagles 27, Lions 16.

Ravens at Bengals

Florio’s take:  The Bengals somehow swept the Ravens last year.  It won’t be happening again in 2010.  Baltimore looks as good as they ever have looked, and the Bengals looked nothing like they looked a year ago.  Look for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis to continue to drop the hammer on anyone who looks in his direction.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 23, Bengals 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bengals defense said they were confused early against the Patriots.  So were guys like Tedy Bruschi that picked Cincinnati to go to the Super Bowl.  At least the Bengals passing attack showed signs of life after the early disaster.  It may have been garbage time, but Carson Palmer couldn’t put up big stats any time last year.  Unlike the Jets, Cincinnati has the weapons to take advantage of Baltimore’s secondary.

Rosenthal’s pick: Bengals 27, Ravens 23.

Steelers at Titans

Florio’s take:  Last year, these two teams kicked off a season that many assumed would end in a playoff rematch.  Neither qualified for the postseason.  This year, both look like they’re on their way to another trip to January.  It all comes down to the Steelers defense against the Titans offense, and the Steelers defense is simply too tough.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 13, Titans 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans were my pick to win the AFC South in the PFT Season Preview, so I’m basically going to take them at home unless they are facing the ’85 Bears.  The Steelers defense isn’t at that level, but it could wind up being the best in 2010.  Pittsburgh can neutralize Chris Johnson — they held him to 57 yards in last year’s opener.  So it will come down Vince Young versus Dennis Dixon and Young should be up for the challenge. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 14, Steelers 10.

Seahawks at Broncos

Florio’s take:  Former Broncos quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who was essentially run off when Josh McDaniels became the head coach, returns to town with a team that unexpectedly won in Week One by 25 points.  But it’s one thing to put a pasting on the 49ers at home in the season opener, it’s quite another to do it in Denver.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 24, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: These teams that are a total mystery, especially the Seahawks.  Can Seattle play so inspired without the 12th man?  What is this team good at precisely?  It looks like Pete Carroll is going to make this defense better and more interesting.  The offense has work to do.  In Denver, I know what I’m getting from Kyle Orton and his band of merry secondary receivers.  The Broncos can beat suspect NFC West teams at home.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 28, Seahawks 21.

Rams at Raiders

Florio’s take:  The Rams looked better than expected in Week One; the Raiders looked far worse.  But Oakland is at home and the Rams are still learning how to win.  Though neither team will be embarrassed, look for the Raiders to take care of business in the Black Hole.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 17, Rams 10.

Rosenthal’s take: The optimism stops here for one of these teams. The Raiders wouldn’t be able to sell progress after a blowout loss on the road and a home loss to the Rams.  Sam Bradford has given the Rams hope for the future, but the present looks awfully bleak if they go 0-2 with a soft opening schedule.  Two Raiders, including Jason Campbell, alluded to being overconfident heading into the Titans game.  You know, because of their draft grades.  Losing 11 or more games for seven years hasn’t humbled this franchise.  Maybe losing to the Rams will. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 21, Raiders 17.

Texans at Redskins

Florio’s take:  The reunion of the Shanahans and Gary Kubiak adds intrigue to a game that suddenly has become one of the best of the weekend give the teams’ performances in Week One.  We’ll quickly find out whether Houston tailback Arian Foster rolled up all those yards because he played against a bad run defense or because the Texans have become the ultimate “pick your poison” pass/run attack.  And we’ll find out whether the Redskins’ offense can score a touchdown or two without having it handed to them.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 27, Redskins 24.

Rosenthal’s take: Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak are road favorites coming off a huge win. This is exactly the game they usually trip over, which worries me. Also worrisome:  Every aspect of the Redskins offense except their tackle play.  (How odd is that?)  Washington just doesn’t have enough firepower to hang with Houston, who should give Arian Foster a break and only rush him 25 times this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Texans 24, Redskins 17.

Patriots at Jets

Florio’s take:  During an offseason of incessant Jets chirping, the Patriots have remained largely silent.  Apart from Tom Brady’s acknowledgement that he hates the Jets, the Pats have avoided the trash talk.  Instead, the Patriots have saved it for the field, and the Jets may have a hard time saving themselves as the Pats make the only kind of statement that truly matters in football.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Jets 13.

Rosenthal’s take: What goes up in the NFL usually comes down. And vice versa.  An overconfident team loses one week, gets ripped, and plays hungry the next time out.  Last year, Rex Ryan called the Jets’ Week Two game against the Patriots the team’s Super Bowl.  This one is far more important.  The Jets know they can’t go 0-2 at home to start the year. The Jets defense still looks great. The offense can find a way on the ground.  Don’t crown the Patriots yet; this will be a season-long battle.



Rosenthal’s pick: Jets 20, Patriots 16.

Jaguars at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Most expected one of these teams to be 1-0 and the other to be 0-1; few expected that the Jaguars would be undefeated and that the Chargers would be winless.  Though it may feel like a home game for the Jaguars since the stadium will be partially empty (rim shot!), the Chargers have the horses to get back to 1-1 against a Jaguars team that overachieved against the Broncos.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 30, Jaguars 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The Chargers talked all offseason about avoiding yet another slow start to the year, and then slogged through a loss in the Kansas City rain.  Weather should be more conducive to vertical passing in San Diego this week. I don’t trust either secondary or either pass rush, even if Aaron Kampman looks like a fine pickup.  I’ll take Philip Rivers in a shootout over David Garrard every time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chargers 34, Jaguars 26.
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Giants at Colts

Florio’s take:  Peyton Manning has started 0-1 only three times in his 13-year career.  Only once, as a rookie in 1998, has Peyton Manning begun a season at 0-2.  This time around, Peyton takes an 0-1 mark into his second career game against his kid brother.  And more importantly than not going 0-2 to Peyton will be avoiding losing to Eli.  Sometimes, it really is that simple.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 31, Giants 19.

Rosenthal’s take: Both brothers have grown up a lot since the last Manning Bowl.  Peyton won a Super Bowl and did the United Way spot on Saturday Night Live.  Eli won a Super Bowl, got significantly better after the title, and adjusted his Southern fraternity mop top.  That makes this a fair fight, especially if the Giants pass rush has truly reawakened.  Fair, but not equal.  Peyton is still the one with MVPs and Peyton doesn’t start the year 0-2.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 34, Giants 30.

Saints at 49ers

Florio’s take:  Rarely if ever has a team with high expectations imploded as quickly as the 49ers.  They open their home schedule with a visit from the Saints, who will have had the longest possible non-bye-week time to prepare for the game, playing on a Thursday and next on the following Monday, 11 days later.  After the game, Niners coach Mike Singletary will be thanking Sean Payton in the same way Singletary thanked Pete Carroll.  

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, 49ers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Weirdly dangerous game for the Saints against an ornery 49ers team.  New Orleans fans don’t like that I questioned their run defense this week, but one game doesn’t erase all of last season and a shaky linebacker group.  Luckily, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams doesn’t have to get too creative to stop Alex Smith and the 49ers passing attack.  Load up the box, and dare Smith to beat you.  The Saints are in Payton/Brees version 5.0.  The essentially can do anything they choose with a veteran group of receivers.  The 49ers can’t get the play calls in on time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Saints 27, 49ers 21.

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Report: “Spirited debate” about where Koa Misi will play in Miami

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Dolphins parted ways with a pair of linebackers this offseason when they released Phillip Wheeler and traded Dannell Ellerbe and there’s reportedly some difference of opinion within the organization about other changes at the position.

Koa Misi moved to middle linebacker last season and made 11 starts at the position for the Dolphins. Misi had 64 tackles and a sack in those appearances and Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports that head coach Joe Philbin said last week that “as of right now” Misi will remain at the position next season.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle is reportedly on board with that, while the personnel department feels differently. Per Beasley, they’d like Kelvin Sheppard to get a shot in the middle while Misi returns to his previous spot on the outside of the defense. Misi started 26 games there in 2012 and 2013 and would likely remain on the first team on the strong side if he does move.

Jelani Jenkins is set for one outside spot, but the Dolphins need to round out their linebacking group over the rest of the offseason. Misi’s ability to play either spot gives them some flexibility about how to go about doing that, although that flexibility may not be needed if the personnel guys are set on pushing him to the outside.

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Dixon accused officers of racial bias

Dixon AP

Saints cornerback Brian Dixon was arrested early Sunday after an incident involving a moped.  Specifically, he was arrested for resisting arrest.  It still remains unclear what he was being arrested for when he allegedly resisted arrest.

Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate has obtained the police report.

According to the report, police officers saw Dixon “splitting lanes” and driving down the center of the road, eventually swerving and cutting off another vehicle.

The officers contend that Dixon became “belligerent” after he learned that he’d be getting a ticket, eventually saying “just give me my ticket so I can get the f–k out of here.”

According to the report, Dixon’s “imposing size, stature, and weight, as well as the defendant’s agitated state” resulted in an order to sit on a curb.  (He’s listed as six feet and 195 pounds, which would nearly qualify me as having “imposing size, stature, and weight.”)  Dixon refused, instead taking a step toward the officer.

An officer then began to place Dixon under arrest.  He allegedly tensed his body and pulled away from the officer.

“Let me go,” Dixon allegedly said.  “You’re just doing this because I’m a black man with dreads and I look like a criminal. I’m not a criminal.”

While being taken in custody, Dixon said, “I’m not a criminal.  I give so much to this community.  I’m an NFL player.  Let me call my agent.”

The Saints acknowledged that they are aware of the incident but had no further comment on Dixon, who earned a roster spot last year despite being undrafted.

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Brandon Magee gets advice from Bo Jackson

Magee AP

Officially, former Buccaneers linebacker Brandon Magee remains committed to football.  Unofficially, he’s giving baseball a try — in spring training with the Red Sox.

As he does, Magee is heeding advice from one of the last great two-sport stars, Bo Jackson.

“Some of them I can tell you, some of them I won’t,” Magee said Sunday regarding the pointers he has gotten from Jackson, via Rick Weber of ESPN.com.  “He’s a great guy.  He’s been here before.  He gives me encouragement all the times I talked to him.  He just told me to stay humble and try to keep working hard and outwork everybody out here.  That’s his main key.”

While he still may be interested in playing football, Magee seems to be all in with baseball, at least for now.

“Every day, I’m learning something new,” Magee said, via Weber.  “I’m getting adjusted to it.  It’s a lot different than playing football.  You’ve got a lot flexibility things I’m working on — getting my arm ready, getting my swing right.  I’m enjoying every minute.

“It’s been 90 feet every day so far.  I think starting tomorrow we’re going to ramp it up even more — taking four rounds of BP tomorrow.  So I’m excited about that.”

So how focused is Magee on football?

“I’m just focusing on spring training,” Magee said.  “And I take it one at a time.  When I’m playing football, it’s to help the team win.  When I’m playing baseball, I’m focusing on getting better, helping the team win.  Now I’m just focusing on getting better every day.”

Still, Magee needs to eventually pick a lane.  As Jackson said last year, times have changed since he played baseball and football at the highest levels.  He conceded that he probably wouldn’t be able to pull off playing both sports in 2015.

Currently, the lane necessarily is baseball, because no NFL team has given him a job.

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NFL to begin research Monday into enhanced camera system

Pylon Getty Images

Whatever Patriots coach Bill Belichick said last week in Arizona, it worked.  The NFL will soon be taking a closer look at the use of fixed cameras during games, at the goal line and elsewhere.

Soon as in very soon.  Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that the league will commence research and development on Monday regarding Belichick’s proposal to add more cameras.

Breer says that the league specifically is looking for “the right technology and then how to best integrate the cameras into the replay system that will work in all 31 stadiums.”

Cost has been identified as a reason for not installing more cameras, a red herring that caused Belichick to go blue (unless he didn’t).  But cost surely isn’t the actual issue, especially since the technology easily can become a revenue stream with the slapping of a logo on the pylon and/or the granting to GoPro of a license to call itself the Official Action Camera of the NFL, or some similar foofy marketing concoction.

The more practical challenge from the placement of cameras in pylons comes from the presence of 22 players and seven officials on the field, who can obscure what otherwise would be a clear view of action on the field.  It also will become important for the officials to not place ever further reliance on the availability of visual evidence when making calls in real time, erring one way or the other with the assumption that any errors can be rectified by replay.

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Tisch says St. Louis, Oakland, San Diego are “kind of in the fourth quarter”

Tisch Getty Images

When it comes to Los Angeles, the NFL has a tough balancing act on its hands.  The desire to go to L.A. on one side, the importance of giving the cities where the potential L.A. franchises currently play a fair chance at keeping them on the other.

Ultimately, one or two current NFL cities will be losing their teams.  And while the NFL tries to say all the right things (presumably in order to prevent three stadiums from being empty or close to it in 2015), the cat is far enough out of the bag to make it clear that St. Louis, Oakland, and/or San Diego will be losing their franchises, as soon as next year.

This could come to a vote in a year,” Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said at the league meetings, via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Tisch added that the league has made it “very clear” that those three cities must “get their proposals to their respective teams sooner rather than later.”

“Is it crunch time? Is it a two-minute warning yet? No,” Tisch said, via Thomas.  “But . . . those three cities are kind of in the fourth quarter.”

As Thomas points out, St. Louis seems to be much farther along in the process than Oakland or San Diego.  But owner Stan Kroenke remains, as Thomas characterizes it, on a “bullet train” to L.A.

Which makes the theory that has gathered momentum in recent weeks the most sensible one yet:  The Rams and Chargers go to L.A., and the Raiders slide from Oakland to St. Louis.  Which will mean that only two cities will lose the NFL, but that three teams will be getting new stadiums.

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Russell Wilson: Contract situation will work out

Russell Wilson AP

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is heading into the final season of his contract, but he doesn’t sound overly concerned about getting a new deal done.

“In terms of my contract, I don’t really talk about that kind of stuff,” Wilson said, via the Everett Herald. “I love the game of football. I love playing the game of football. I try to put my best foot forward and I want to be the best to ever play the game. That’s the way I look at it. I’ve been fortunate enough to win a lot of games at such a young age and to be able to play with some great guys and have some great comeback wins and win a Super Bowl, and go to back to back Super Bowls. It’s been special. So that’s what I focus on. I focus on the next opportunity that I have. The rest will come. I believe God is going to bless me. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I trust always. And I trust it’s going to work out the way it’s supposed to.”

The Seahawks get Wilson for this year at the bargain salary of $1.5 million. If they can’t get a deal done beyond this year, however, the only way they could ensure he doesn’t leave is to franchise him at a number approaching $20 million.

Franchising Wilson is exactly what they’ll do if they have to, but they’d prefer to get a deal done before it comes to that. Wilson sounds like he’s ready for whatever happens: Ready to sign if the right deal comes, or ready to wait if he’s not satisfied with what the Seahawks are offering.

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Dixon arrested after moped incident

Moped Getty Images

Saints cornerback Brian Dixon was arrested for resisting arrest, but not for anything else.  Which raises a legitimate question about what he was being arrested for when he resisted arrest.

That logic still seems to be lost on the authorities in South Beach, but Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate offers some additional details about the incident.

Per Underhill, police say Dixon was driving a moped.  A police officer pulled him over.  Dixon then questioned the officer.  And the officer arrested Dixon.

Without knowing what Dixon said, it’s hard to know whether the arrest was justified.  It’s nevertheless odd that Dixon was arrested for resisting an arrest that still has not been specified.

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Packers to remain “smart” about how they use Eddie Lacy

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The Packers wanted Eddie Lacy to show he could be an effective three-down running back in 2014 and Lacy was successful in that effort.

Lacy averaged over 10 yards a catch on 42 receptions and did a solid job as a pass blocker in his second NFL season, leaving coach Mike McCarthy without too much to tell Lacy about where to improve heading into the 2015 season. The conversation will instead be about continuing to use Lacy in a way that he can be an effective offensive force without putting him at risk of overuse over the course of the season.

McCarthy said he thought the team was “really smart” in how they used Lacy last season. He ran the ball 246 times in the regular season, good for 13th in the league, and it sounds like McCarthy would be happy with a similar total next season.

“I go back to past experience,” McCarthy said, via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I went through this, really. Ricky Williams [who was with the Saints when McCarthy was on New Orleans’s staff] was the first running back that I went through the how-many-attempts, how-many-runs [discussion]. It’s a learning experience. I’m conscientious of how many times each guy touches the ball, how much each guy plays, especially the running back. I think you have to be smart there.”

Lacy added 40 more carries while continuing to run well in the postseason, which makes it tough to argue with the contention that the team came up with a good plan for their top running back. As long as Lacy is healthy, they should be able to find the same formula this time around.

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League, Irsay still silent on Indiana law

Irsay AP

The NFL still hasn’t said a word about a law that passed last week in Indiana.  Last year, when a similar law nearly passed in Arizona, the league said plenty publicly — and reportedly was privately considering moving Super Bowl XLIX, with Tampa Bay being the first option.

The league has remained silent regarding the Indiana law even as hundreds rallied Saturday against the law that prohibits the placement of a “substantial burden” on the ability of a person, an institution, a business, or an association’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs.  The provision has been interpreted as permitting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence says a bill clarifying the new law is now in the works.

“I just can’t account for the hostility that’s been directed at our state,” Pence said, via the Associated Press.  “I’ve been taken aback by the mischaracterizations from outside the state of Indiana about what is in this bill.”

However it plays out, the NFL’s silence in 2015 makes little sense, given the noise it made in 2014 when Arizona was poised to do the same thing.

Meanwhile, the Colts have said nothing, either.  Which seems a little odd, given the fairly high profile owner Jim Irsay has assumed on Twitter.  Though he recently has been tweeting about roster moves and the league meetings, Irsay hasn’t said a word via Twitter for the last six days.

If the league had said nothing a year ago regarding Arizona, saying nothing now wouldn’t be so glaring.  But if the league were indeed planning in 2014 to pull the plug on a Super Bowl due to be played in a matter of months, complete silence in 2015 makes no sense.

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Erin Henderson set for visit with Jets

Jermaine Gresham, Erin Henderson AP

Erin Henderson’s search for a chance to resume his NFL career will be heading to New Jersey.

Henderson met with the 49ers last week after sitting out the entire 2014 season following his release in Minnesota, but didn’t sign a contract with the team. The Niners have moved on to a scheduled meeting with Lance Briggs and Henderson’s agent says his client is moving on to a meeting with the Jets.

Jim Chapman told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee that Henderson has scheduled a visit with the AFC East club. The Jets re-signed David Harris as free agency opened and have Demario Davis back as well, which leaves Henderson as a depth option at inside linebacker.

The Vikings dropped Henderson last February after a pair of arrests for drunk driving. He started 33 games during his final three seasons with the Vikings and was a fairly effective player before his off-field trouble led to his on-field hiatus.

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Saints cornerback arrested in Miami Beach

Dixon Getty Images

Saints cornerback Brian Dixon has been arrested in Miami Beach for resisting arrest without violence.  Per multiple sources, the arrest occurred early this morning.

It’s unclear why Dixon was being arrested in the first place.  He’s charged only with resisting arrest.

The Saints will now have to decide whether to resist the temptation to sever ties with Dixon, who was undrafted in 2014 coming out of Northwest Missouri State.

UPDATE 12:24 p.m. ET:  Dixon reportedly was arrested after being pulled over while driving a moped.

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Mike Tomlin: We have the goods to be NFL’s best offense

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The Steelers averaged 27.2 points per game last season, which was good enough for seventh place in the NFL and a first place finish in the AFC North.

Things looked even better once wide receiver Martavis Bryant was plugged into the lineup after missing the first six games. The Steelers jumped to 31.2 points per game, a number that would have ranked first in the league if they’d done it over the course of all 16 contests. With Bryant set for a bigger role from the outset in 2015 and the likes of Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger also on hand, coach Mike Tomlin thinks the stage is set for the Steelers to be the league’s top offense.

“My expectation is they’re capable of being the very best because we’ve got the goods,” Tomlin said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We’ve got guys that are capable. We’ve got guys that know what they’re doing. We’ve got guys that played together for an extended period of time now. So that’s a reasonable expectation.”

If the Steelers can’t get their defense on a better track, they’ll need their offense to be at least as good as it was in 2014 to book another trip to the postseason. That’s a change from the familiar balance in Pittsburgh, but it’s one that the Steelers will continue to embrace as long it represents their best path to success.

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Sealver Siliga still in walking boot after foot surgery

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The Patriots played most of last season without defensive tackle Sealver Siliga in the lineup, but they made good use of him once he returned from injured reserve late in the year.

Siliga started the final three games of the regular season and all three New England postseason victories, recording 31 tackles and a pair of sacks on the way to a Super Bowl title. Siliga seems likely to remain in that spot come next season as long as he’s healthy.

Right now, Siliga isn’t quite there. The foot injury that kept Siliga out for nine games wasn’t totally healed, though, and he had surgery after the season to set things right. Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports Siliga is still using a walking boot as he recovers from the operation. There’s no word on whether he’ll continue to be wearing it when the team starts OTAs, but it seems a good bet that Siliga will be somewhat limited during offseason work.

With Vince Wilfork now in Houston, Siliga and Alan Branch are the biggest bodies on the interior of the defensive line in New England. They could add another option in the draft and may have to look for more help if Siliga’s foot issue continues to linger.

 

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Cardinals to give Logan Thomas “a ton of work” this offseason

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When the Cardinals lost Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton for the season with injuries last year, they briefly considered starting Logan Thomas in the regular season finale before opting to stick with Ryan Lindley for that game and in their playoff loss to the Panthers.

Arians said at the time that he didn’t think Thomas, who was drafted in the fourth round last year, was ready for action and he repeated the point at last week’s league meetings. Arians said he wasn’t going to let Thomas fail because “once you fail those scars never go away” and that part of the plan this offseason is to make sure Thomas won’t fail if he’s forced into action in 2015.

“He’s going to get a ton of work and those reps are invaluable,” Arians said, via the team’s website. “Just in decision-making, how fast you’re getting it out of your hand, where you’re going with it, where you’re going when ‘one’ and ‘two’ are still covered. Are you still scrambling around or are you going to find your outlets? That growth process comes strictly from reps.”

Arians indicated that most of Thomas’s reps would come on Field Two with younger members of the squad, but there should be opportunities with the first team as well with Palmer and Stanton coming off of injuries. If Thomas shows well during those chances, he may start making a case to be Palmer’s backup and/or possible successor in the Cardinals lineup while also allowing the team to avoid any further dips into the Lindley bucket.

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Sunday morning one-liners

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The Bills tried to leave themselves without much work to do in the draft.

Winning more games is the next step in Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill’s development.

Patriots QB Tom Brady put on his basketball shoes for a game with Michael Jordan.

Todd Bowles had several mentors on his way to becoming Jets head coach.

CB Lardarius Webb hopes to retire with the Ravens after restructuring his contract.

Tracing DE Michael Johnson’s path away from and back to the Bengals.

Two ways of looking at the best Browns of all time.

Plenty of coaches praised Steelers S Troy Polamalu during last week’s league meetings.

The Texans need G Xavier Su’a-Filo to step up in his second season.

Colts WR T.Y. Hilton and TE Coby Fleener are both a year away from possible free agency.

A call for the Jaguars to find space for WR Greg Jennings.

The five biggest developments of the Titans offseason.

Holdovers on the offensive coaching staff are helping the Broncos transition under head coach Gary Kubiak this offseason.

Former Chiefs TE Sean McGrath is part of the recent group of young players leaving the NFL.

Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie is one of several linebackers to wear No. 54 as a player with the team.

A music video is part of the effort to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

Would Michigan DE Frank Clark be an option for the Cowboys in the draft?

The Giants were part of the contingent of teams at LSU’s pro day.

Is scheme or talent the most important thing for the Eagles?

A look at possibilities for the Redskins to trade back from the fifth pick.

West Virginia WR Mario Alford’s speed could make him attractive to the Bears.

Would Indiana RB Tevin Coleman be a good fit with the Lions?

Packers General Manager Ted Thompson isn’t likely to change his approach to the draft.

Captain Munnerlyn expects to retain a starting cornerback job with the Vikings.

G Mike Person likes what he’s seen of the Falcons blocking schemes.

Jarrett Boykin may have taken the Panthers out of the running for other free agent wideouts.

The least successful free agent signings in Saints history.

The Buccaneers signed free agents familiar with their defense.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald played the world’s longest par 3 in South Africa.

Coach Jeff Fisher broke down the Rams’ moves on defense.

What led the 49ers to hold onto QB Blaine Gabbert as Colin Kaepernick’s backup?

This weekend marked the anniversary of the trade that brought CB Shawn Springs to the Seahawks.

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